“There is no such thing as privacy in the digital age.” – Chris McKenna, Founder of Protect Young Eyes.
That’s true in at least two ways. First, the business model of social networks and Google is to be as nosy as they can and find out as much about you as possible so that they can target you with advertisements that you might actually respond to.
Secondly, it’s true when it comes to the way that responsible parents monitor their kids’ use of their digital devices. Tech companies should not know more about a child than their parents do!
These are some of issues that we asked McKenna’s organization, Protect Young Eyes (PYE), to present on here at the ADA offices on March 23.
Of course, knowing what your child is up to on their device, or the devices they have access to is only half the battle, Parents and authority figures in children’s lives need to know which sites, services, and applications are “safe” for their kids to use.
And that’s where things get really difficult. One of the first facts presented by Carol, from PYE, was that most applications have back door access to the internet. One way that many applications promote themselves is to encourage you to share your activities in the app on a social media site. You push the link to share on Facebook or Twitter and a browser opens, taking you to that social site to log on or share. But once you are on that site, you can navigate to all sorts of filth by way of that browser, even from the Bible App. Obviously, that’s not the intention of the app developers, but it is a feature that can be exploited.
Of course, an organization called “Protect Young Eyes” is very concerned about pornography on the internet, and some of the most shocking information of the night was the acceptability of porn to the younger generations. First of all, the presenter gave the surprising statistic that twenty to thirty percent of the internet is pornographic. Porn, she explained, is the norm. In fact, citing a recent study, teens interviewed as to what behaviors they found morally inacceptable rated not recycling as being less acceptable then using pornography. That’s how prolific this material is, which means parents that want to keep this stuff away from their kids need to be ever vigilant!
Carol asked the attendees to think of going onto the internet the way that a cop thinks about going out on duty. The Police use two primary methods to stay safe: body armor and a partner. Even, with these measures, however, police officers are still in danger. Nothing can ENSURE safety in the streets or online.
But the parents are the partners watching their kids’ backs, while preventative software like internet filters, accountability applications, router settings, and even certain device settings can serve as a bullet proof vest.
Carol narrowed the preventative strategies down to three points:
Guard the location where the child will use the device: the four most dangerous places for kids to be online are grandparents’ houses, school buses, sleepovers, and bedrooms. These are the least likely places for their usage to be monitored.
Guard the Router: Products like Circle with Disney and OpenDNS offer a level of protection at the router level, meaning that any device getting internet from that router will be filtered and protected.
Guard the Device: Use applications that filter content or improve accountability, and turn off the app store on the device so that children can’t download dangerous apps.
We’ve known since its inception that the internet has a dark side and creates potential for unthinkable damage for our children. The information provided by Protect Young Eyes’ presentations and through their website is an effective tool in protecting our children’s innocence in the digital age.
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